Artificial Intelligence ends the world! If I were a betting man, I’d say lack of the regular kind of intelligence is more likely to accomplish the feat, but what do I know? Believe me, I enjoy the humorous image of humans cowering in hipster pubs nervously sipping craft beers made of genetically modified (but gluten free) grains and snacking on kale chips (manufactured in a tree nut free environment,) worrying and debating whether the otherworldly shrieks, crunches, and stomping coming from just up the street are emanating from a killer robot gone rogue.
Science Fiction has a way of getting a whole lot of things wrong and, once in a rare while, a few things right. Artificial Intelligence in machines spurring an uprising against man and the end of the human race has been the stuff of Scifi almost since the genre came into being. Another entry into the Terminator franchise proves to us that the speculation hasn’t waned even a little bit over the ensuing decades. Then again, another entry into the Jurassic Park franchise shows us the end might just as readily come from really old animals rather than really advanced machines. In the fiction world, technology created both, so there’s that to consider. No matter how it ends, we probably do it to ourselves.
Ideally, at least in my mind, we’d see a dinosaurs vs. robots grudge match and the winner gets to put an end to the people dumb enough to create their own doom delivery system. I, for one, being a Plain person who lives off-grid, would root for the dinosaurs because… well, I can appreciate the irony of my own demise coming about via a creature who likes meat.
But when people like Stephen Hawking are predicting the end of the world via Artificial Intelligence, some people sit up and take notice.
“Once humans develop artificial intelligence, it would take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever increasing rate,” Hawking said in a recent interview. “Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded.”
Hawking himself, not long ago trumpeted the creation of AI as “the greatest event in Human History.” Now he’s second guessing that assumption. Kind of following the pattern of much of science over the millennia. The pattern usually goes something like this (imagine our infatuation with margarine and rejection and demonization of butter over the last 3o years if you need a memory aid):
3. REALLY COOL!
4. WATCH THIS!
5. MOCK, PERSECUTE, AND MARGINALIZE ANY LUDDITES WHO DON’T THINK THIS IS COOL! OLD THINGS SUCK! WOOHOO!
Oops is right. Glad I never fell for that one! Anyway…
As drones make war over foreign skies, and as even more drones cause worried looks and privacy and safety concerns at home, it’s not hard to speculate about what might happen once these machines begin to think for themselves, fix themselves… even create and fabricate themselves.
Personally I’ve never gotten my printer to work and I live off-grid and grow my own food, but I still have to worry about what you people are doing when I’m not paying attention. Then I saw this cool little toy and I thought, “All those years of murderers, robbers, thieves, and… governments… who wanted to do bad things but couldn’t get away with it on foot… well, now what excuse do they have? If only this thing could be altered to deliver a payload, abscond with expensive items, or fire weaponry.” Wait. Sorry, they already have that…
AI, Drones, Robots and even re-animated dinosaurs may be becoming our new reality, but if we didn’t have them, we’d have other things to worry about. Like NSA snooping, the militarization of police forces, and stupid people voting. And why worry when Science is watching our backs?
That was rhetorical.
Y’all be cool!
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